Last week, I had one of my providers that visits home arrive for our weekly appointment breathing heavily because he ran up the steps to my house for fear, I would be upset he did not arrive at the scheduled time. While as a child I did get upset if someone coming to my home to see me was a more than a minute late, that is no longer the case as I have built up the flexibility to understand that things don’t happen as they are planned.
What am I saying? Many autistics are regimented to time. Meaning if you say the appointment or pickup is at 6:00 and it doesn’t happen at 6:00, and it becomes 6:01, then the anxiety starts, the pacing, the racing thoughts, and if it continues, it grows. When I was growing up, we didn’t have the luxury of the many technological advancements that help autistics today. I recall one time when the school transportation was 20 minutes late and I was a hysterical mess because I had the feeling as I was forgotten and wouldn’t be able to go to school, something that many didn’t want to do, but it was what was going to occupy my day and being thrown off those twenty minutes not knowing if the day is going to be uprooted or not was the world to me. The transportation did arrive and I was upset for some time and was planning to be later because other students didn’t go to school that day and the driver changed the way she did the route that day (how dare she! She learned to stop at a pay phone to give me a head up back then…something she didn’t have to do, but she didn’t want to experience my historicalness again.)
The waiting game is not the only factor with time that I experience. When we think we need to do something, we as autistics oftentimes drill it into our schedule and are very rigid of placing it in our routine. My medication regimen is this way. Only because I know I can’t miss it and I do well with it is why I have it instilled in my brain to take it at the prescribed times, hence a prescription. While I was on my rumspringa of being on and off the medicine the last two years and finally realizing that it is better to take it. I now had the regret if I didn’t take especially the evening dose at the time, I thought I needed to that I just couldn’t take it for fear I wouldn’t wake up the next day on time and miss my routine for the next day fearing being off-schedule. This is how regimented I can be in little forms yet no one could notice it. A few weeks ago, I was on an outing with my parents and my niece that got me home an while later pas the dosing time of my evening medication. At first, I didn’t want to take it because I feared that I wouldn’t get up at the regular time the next day and be off routine. I didn’t have to follow that routine if I didn’t want to as that day was my day, so I tossed and turned at the thought and finally realized that I needed to take it. I took it and although I fell asleep later, I still got a good sleep and was up an hour later and still had time to do everything I had planned for that day.
This past weekend both evenings resulted in the sessions ending at a later hour, which the sessions ran past my dosing time. I didn’t take it at that time and did attend the sessions each evening and took my medicine directly after the sessions each evening. I fell asleep quite easy because of being tired but I must have needed the sleep because I didn’t set an alarm and woke up an hour later both days which the second evening was a motivational hypnotization which made me feel really good when I slept.
I only give these few examples to show a contrast of how much flexibility I have learned to accept over the decades. It isn’t easy sometimes to be patient because we always have brewing in our head a lineup of daily activities like programs on a TV Station. However, we can only do with what we are given with and that I have done greatly. Be sure to make certain of all the acceptance of flexibility in your life because we must learn in the world to teach autistics to be flexible, it can make one’s life so much better. Once it is learned, you will be so proud that you have developed the skills needed to do so.